According to a study published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, approximately “1 in 20 Americans are currently deaf or hard of hearing.” But what exactly is the difference between being deaf and hard of hearing? We review the answer to this question below.
How Hearing Is Classified
It’s not the case that hearing ability is classified as “deaf” and “not deaf” – hearing ability exists on a spectrum, from normal hearing to profound hearing loss.
- Normal hearing means you can hear even quiet sounds, like breathing and leaves rustling.
- Slight hearing loss means you can hear speech sounds just fine, but may have trouble with very soft sounds.
- Mild hearing loss means you can hear most speech sounds but may have trouble hearing the difference between certain consonants.
- Moderate hearing loss means you may have trouble with consonants as well as some vowel sounds.
- Moderately severe hearing loss means speech sounds may be audible but you cannot understand what is said.
- Severe hearing loss means you cannot hear speech sounds without amplification.
- Profound hearing loss means you cannot hear even loud sounds without amplification.
The Line Between Hard of Hearing and Deaf
If you are hard of hearing, it means your hearing loss lies somewhere within the mild to severe range. If you are deaf, it means you have profound hearing loss.
How Hearing Loss Is Treated
There are several treatment options for hearing loss.
For those with mild to severe hearing loss, hearing aids are the gold standard treatment. These medical devices work by amplifying sounds to a volume the wearer can detect and understand. There are many styles of hearing aids on the market, and many boast amazing features that can help you hear well even in complex listening environments like The Factory Kitchen.
For those with severe to profound hearing loss, cochlear implants may be a more appropriate solution. These surgically-implanted devices work by bypassing the damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve.
Many people who have severe to profound hearing loss prefer to instead communicate with American Sign Language (ASL) or other visual forms of communication such as lip reading and writing.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call The House Institute Hearing Health Centers today.